Cryptics vs Sandhurst Wanderers - Nonchalant catches, 15,000 spectators and a touch of magic....
Cryptics 152 for 8 (30 overs) - B Tibble 28, A McCulla 26, J Pym 24, Basir 4-20
Sandhurst Wanderers 148 all out (28.2.overs) - Cross 75, Dean 23, C Fox 3-29, W Wilkins 2-13, B Tibble 2-9
Cryptics won by 5 runs
If sport is all about starting games well, the Cryptics managed to defy the usual adage and sneak home a win by the smallest of margins, with a start to the match that found most of the team stranded on the wrong side of the perimeter fence of Sandhurst 15 minutes before kick off. 'Heritage day' is the Sandhurst day for opening it's gates to the great British public, which happened to co-incide with the arrival of the Cryptics. Although the journey to the ground was somewhat frustrating, the 15,000+ spectators in Sandhurst did give the backdrop for probably the largest ever crowd at a Cryptics match!
The pitch looked like it might produce it's usual ups and downs so after winning the toss CCC decided to bat and try and get some runs on the board, especially as the Cryptics were venturing out of their normal comfort zone into a 30 over a side limited over format. On a pitch offering variable bounce and some occasional significant sideways movement, no batsman was ever truly in, which was borne out by the fact that no batsman got beyond 30, apart from an outstanding (almost match winning) knock from the Sandhurst skipper. So it was an excellent effort from the openers Jason Doole and James Pym to see off the first few overs and then start to accelerate towards 50, with Doole pushing well into the gaps and rotating the strike and Pym hitting some lusty blows. As so often happens one wicket brought 2 and from 49-0 we were soon 50-2 with some re-building required. This was duly done by some excellent running between the wickets from Andrew McCulla and Ben Tibble, who started to accelerate over the 100 mark, before we suffered 2 quick wickets, both bowled by the flat off spin of Basir. Again re-building was required at 106-4 with 9 overs to go. Marcus Ward and Rob Walker also ran well between the wickets to get the score to 140 with a hope of pushing on into the last 3-4 overs. Unfortunately the Cryptics lost their way trying to accelerate the scoring and made it to 152-8. Although disappointed to not have got a few more, the feeling in the dressing room was that 150 was a potentially match winning score.
This feeling was certainly backed up by outstanding opening spells from Chris Fox and William Wilkins who bowled full and straight and at the 12 over mark had Sandhurst 5 down for not many more than 40. Wilkins kicked off early with an LBW, then Fox got in on the act with a classic delivery moving away from the right hander to be pouched serenely by Pym at second slip. Fox then had another caught behind by the ever safe hands of keeper McCulla and another bowled, and finally Wilkins induced some extra bounce to have a final wicket caught well at square leg by Paul Massey. The Crypitcs then turned to the spin of Paul Massey and Tim Forte. Both bowlers got some purchase from the pitch, with Forte managing to really tie down the right handers, but in Dean and their captain, Cross, Sandhurst batted very cleverly - rotating the strike, making 2s in the deep and hitting the bad balls for 4. Forte did put pressure on Dean in one over and had him caught pushing to mid-on - Wilkins catching the ball without seeming to move a muscle for a catch described as 'nonchalant' by the delighted Forte. However, soon Cross had reached 50 and was accelerating quickly and with 8 overs to go they were well on track with the scoring rate and still 4 wickets remaining. A change of pace was required and Chris Ward and Ben Tibble stepped up to try to break the deadlock. When Cross heaved Tibble's first ball to the midwicket boundary, Sandhurst were looking the most likely winners. However, Ward and Tibble started to put pressure back on the batsmen and the crucial breakthrough came from a piece of magic - Tibble haring in from square of the wicket to throw at a single stump, just flicking the bail off in the process, to have Cross run out for 75. The ever alert Oracle that is Fox commenting that 'this could be it!' Tibble then backed up this outstanding fielding with an LBW and Ward had Basir bowled with an excellent off-cutter. So it came down to the final over, Sandhurst needing 5 to win with 1 wicket remaining with a tied match being a real possibility. It was apt that Tibble had the final say bowling full and straight to have the final wicket bowled by a low full toss.
I would like to say the 15,000 spectators roared their approval at this stage, however most of them had gone home, but what a game they missed! You could not ask for a better finish, and it was great that everyone of the Cryptics contributed runs, wickets and catches to the final result, no mean feat in a 30 over a side match. The only thing left to be done was consume the traditional enormous pile of scones and cream!